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Frank Miller's Big Damn Sin City HC

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  • Frank Miller's Big Damn Sin City HC

    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: Jun. 25, 2014
    Purchase From Amazon

    This is it - one big damn collection of big damn stories with big damn characters. All of Sin City, all in one volume. You can tell what kinda hangover this is gonna give you before you even crack it open, all curves and rage and blood, cool as ice on the edges and hotter than the freakin' sun at the center.


    The Hard Goodbye - The big, bad first story that started it all. You get the gargantuan psychotic Marv, for whom violence is just his first response. But he's not without a sense of humor or a sense of honor/duty, in his own way. When he's given the night of his life by the stunning Sin City-breed of hooker named Goldie, he knows he can't believe his luck and that something else must be going on. But he enjoys the moment, which seems to be the way to survive nobly in that place.

    When he awakens next to her corpse he realizes the killer must be someone extra special, to be able to sneak in on him and do that to Goldie. And when Marv hears the cops already outside he knows this is all a setup. He brutally escapes and immediately sets about investigating this setup, “for Goldie.” This takes him to what will become a series of familiar places with recognizable characters in the Sin City world. He meets with his caseworker, the curvy Lucille, who gets him more of his meds and tries to talk him down. But once Marv's blood is up, he knows this is big and for good this time. He next heads home, to where he shares a place with his sick mother, to retrieve Gladys, his .45 automatic. Then Marv heads to the club where Nancy is dancing and Shelley is slinging drinks. Here, he gets a toadie to spread the word that he's out hunting for Goldie's killer, trying to lure them out into the open.

    It doesn't take long for the bad guys to respond as two of them corner Marv and make him leave the bar. Outside, the fight is over shortly as Marv takes one of them out with the wall and then takes his time with the other, getting both information and the hitman's nice trench coat. As he leaves with his new coat and a new destination he's tailed by a stunning blonde, one that bears a near-perfect resemblance to Goldie, swearing revenge on him…

    The next bit involves Marv chasing down any lead he can; the problem with his condition, though, makes this all in flashbacks featuring a series of violent, bloody interrogations that are still amusing as they're so extreme. All this leads him to a church, in a confession booth with a priest. Marv has a lot to confess and he does, laying it out as more a way of exposition as to why he's here, the path leading to this priest. The padre gives him the name of Roark and tells Marv to check out a farm north of town. He then asks Marv if a whore is worth all this effort. Marv responds in his own way, blowing a hole in the priest's head and ending with an “Amen.”

    Marv's inner dialog takes over then, explaining who the Roark family is and what they mean to Sin City. His target is not just a big fish - he's THE big fish in town. And there's no end of resources and obstacles in his way to get to him. Plus, he swears he sees Goldie when she tries to shoot him AND run him over. He shakes off the damage, takes his pills, and heads to that farm. After taking down a guard dog he tries to stake the place out; it's only at the last second that he's aware of someone coming for him. Marv is caught by surprise and he knows someone that quiet could've snuck in and killed Goldie. But this assassin proves too much for Marv and sends him to sleep with a sledgehammer.

    He comes to in a cell whose walls are lined with the heads of prostitutes. Lucille's there, too, having also been grabbed. She also had to watch this killer eat her hand that he'd severed while she was unconscious. Marv catches her up to speed and she says she'd been doing her own investigation, discovering that Goldie was a very high-class call girl. And that her killer is a cannibal. As Marv works on the bars on the window he finds that the killer's been watching them. A car pulls up and summons him, leaving Marv with a look at his face and his name, Kevin.

    After he departs, Marv can put his considerable bulk to work and, miraculously, smash open the barred door of their cell. He and Lucille make their way out, only to hear an approaching helicopter. Taking safety in the nearby woods, Marv readies Gladys to put up a fight. But Lucille knocks him out with a rock, not wanting him to get them killed. She approaches the heavily-armed police surrendering, giving them Gladys. But they have no interest in bringing in anyone that knows anything about what's happened and they kill Lucille. Marv grabs a hatchet and goes to work, eliminating the squad down to Lucille's killer who happens to also be wearing a nice trench coat…

    Pouring rain nearly obscures Marv as he tries, in his limited way, to process all that he now knows. The cop with the coat, before he died, confirmed Roark as being behind it all, leaving Marv to connect the dots: Namely, that Goldie knew something she shouldn't, knew she was gonna die, and went out and found the biggest, nastiest goon she could for protection. He curses himself for failing her but, despite the overwhelming odds, promises her soul justice as he comes face to face with a statue to Cardinal Patrick Roark, the most powerful man in Sin City.

    Soon, though, he's knocked out by that vision of Goldie and he awakens, surrounded by some of the Sin City women. He's bound to a chair as Goldie pistol-whips him, trying to get answers out of him for Goldie's murder and those other missing ladies. Marv is a bit confused as to why this one is called Wendy when she reveals she's Goldie's twin sister. He's then able to get them up to speed with what's happened, the frame job and who's behind it all. He then gets up, showing he could've escaped at any time but didn't want to as he might've had to hurt the gal with the gun. He takes a long, good look in the mirror, thinking about his life and where it's lead him now and what he's capable of.

    Marv and Wendy head out then, to get back to Kevin first. On the way, as she's driving, Wendy details that the clergy were Goldie's specialty. He's still a bit confused by this living version of his angel, stating that her tenderness is the main reason behind his commitment to right her wrong. They crash out at Wendy's place with Marv on the couch, still getting confused, slapped, and put back into his place by Wendy. The next day, they go shopping, Marv getting his checklist filled out for his plan to deal with Kevin in his own unique way.

    Explosions, razor wire, well-timed handcuffs, rubber tubing and a hacksaw later, with Kevin's dog getting his fill of his owner's guts, Marv's finally “done” with Kevin, taking his head as a souvenir. He had to knock Wendy out when she wanted to just shoot Kevin so he drops her off at Nancy's with a promise to get her safely out of town. One last stop, then, and that's to Cardinal Roark's place.

    Marv dispatches the security and is soon face to face with the man himself. Roark freaks when he sees Kevin's head then explains what Kevin truly did and how it allowed them to converse with the divine. Once Marv's had enough he takes his time killing Roark, giving the opportunity for more cops to show up and shoot him. But, even full of bullets, surgeons are able to save Marv so there can be the spectacle, the show of a confession, trial and execution.

    And on the night before his date in the chair, Marv gets one last, special visit, from Wendy who lets him think she's Goldie, just one last time. After that, he's in the chair, complaining how long their taking and, after the first jolt of electricity, if that's the best they can do. But after the second jolt his grinning death's head is all that's left of the mighty gladiator of vengeance...

    A Dame To Kill For - It's the first story to feature Dwight, the bald-headed, rage-filled death machine. He doesn't start that way, though, being a photographer for a private dick of sorts. On one typical blackmailing assignment, though, things begin to go sour when the guy pulls a gun on his hooker, unable to live with not being with her. Dwight crashes in, prevents any murders and takes the hooker to safety.

    Dwight's employer is Agememnon, a swarthy, cheerful type just happy to be making it in Sin City at some level. But he also enjoys this work a bit too much, and it's all getting to Dwight. After he meets the wife of the husband he earlier stopped from killing the hooker he realizes all he wants out of his failed life is the opportunity to unleash his inner monster one last time, to feel that alive just once more. He brings his ride to a screeching halt at that thought, though, swearing with a mantra to never, ever lose control, to “never let the monster out.”

    So, naturally, that tension is going to be tested because it's Sin City and everyone gets boiled hard. At his office, then, he gets a phone call from the one person who can get him to lose control: Ava, the titular femme fatale of the story. She pleads with him, now, after a long separation from Dwight, to meet him at a seedy bar. He arrives early, trades pleasantries with Marv, and waits. When she arrives it's like a bolt out of the blue and Dwight knows he's going to do whatever she asks of him, despite how stupid he knows that is to do. He does, though, lash out at her a bit, telling her that her only motivation ever is just money and that's what ruined their relationship.

    Ava, though, is begging Dwight's forgiveness, playing the humbled ex-lover, calling herself a selfish slut that “threw away the only man she ever loved!” Dwight's still not convinced and unforgiving - that is, until the chauffeur Manute shows up, telling her it's time to come home. He stands up to the huge brute, with Marv sliding in, offering assistance. It's Ava that defuses the situation, saying it's now “too late” and just asking Dwight to remember her…

    Dwight's then having trouble getting her off his mind. He runs through what she did to him but how she also made him feel so alive, so very, very good. Now, she might be lying but there's that remote possibility she might be telling the truth, that she might actually be in danger. He has to know, just to settle his mind, so he sets out for her current digs, the mansion of one Damien Lord. He sneaks into the compound, still debating doing so in his mind, using his camera to get a peek around.

    Naturally he's caught but Manute doesn't recognize him and the other guards think him just to be a peeping tom. Damien Lord seems satisfied with this and not bringing the police in. He also tells the skinny-dipping Ava to cover herself. She responds by telling him to go to hell and then screaming as Manute pulverizes Dwight. He blacks out, only coming to when he's thrown out of a moving car. He manages to crawl to a pay phone and get Agamemnon to come help him home.

    He's surprised, then, that his car is back at his place, his door is open, his coat there and, naked and smoking in his bed, is Ava. She's capitalizing on his appearance at Lord's home demonstrating that he still has feelings for her, something she can clearly manipulate as she has him release all his anger on her which he does as they they get it on. Dwight loses himself all over in her and for her so she can now tell him what's what: That Damien is a madman who tortures her, using Manute's speciality in inflicting pain without leaving any mark. She thinks he's building these sessions to ultimately kill her as his ultimate perversion this way. Dwight pledges his protection just as Manute storms into his place.

    Their fight is very short as Manute throws Dwight around and sends him out his window. He and Ava depart and Dwight comes to just in time to get a look at a panicked Ava in the back of their car. This is the last straw for Dwight, who won't allow anyone to take his Ava away. Despite her current predicament it's now clear to him that he can't do this alone. So he goes back to the bar to enlist Marv's help. He gets to see a humorous scene between a drunk tourist and that beast, reflecting on Marv's character with the great line:

    “..he had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He'd have been okay if he'd been born a couple of thousand years ago. He'd be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody's face. Or in a Roman arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him.”

    Marv's down for the heavy action Dwight promises so they head back up to Lord's mansion. He makes Marv promise not to kill anyone tonight, make the big guy a little sad. But Dwight's forgotten that soon enough as he provides the distraction to Lord's guards, allowing Dwight to slip inside. Marv also gets some one-on-one time with Manute, the big-guy fight hoped for finally realized. Meanwhile, Dwight gets his own vis-a-vis with Damien Lord, demanding to know what he's done with Ava. But Damien has no idea what he's talking about, that Ava is a sociopath, and then he tries to defend himself against this intruder. In his rage, Dwight goes too far and murders Damien, sadly realizing that just as Ava enters, thanking him for being so stupid and for making her a very rich woman. Then she shoots Dwight. A lot. And, in between shots, she relishes the opportunity to finally be fully honest, letting the depth of her depravity free, detailing how she manipulated Dwight and is now the richest woman in Sin City.

    But before she can finish Dwight off he falls out the window and Marv, alerted by the gunshots (and wearing Manute's hat) rushes in and gets him to safety. Ava calls the police, hysterical, then hangs up and laughs maniacally next to the corpse of her husband. Marv rushes through town, with Dwight leaking all over their stolen ride, insistent he get to Old Town. Marv doesn't think he'll make it but Dwight says he's got too much left to do to die yet.

    Back at Lord's mansion, Ava is playing the detectives like a fiddle, fingering Dwight as a jilted ex-lover that just couldn't stay away. The detectives not only buy it but are open to her charms, especially married Det. Mort whom his partner, Bob, tries to talk into “revisiting” that “perk.” The rest of the cops have spotted Marv and Dwight's car and are in pursuit - that is, until they reach Old Town. One cop car continues the chase, unaware that the girls of Old Town have their own law and don't much care for the police...

    Dwight finds Gail who immediately takes him in, knowing he doesn't have any time left. Elsewhere, Det. Mort can't sleep so he leaves his wife in bed and calls Ava, who's coolly awaiting his phone call in a bubble bath. She continues to play the victim, he over-sympathizes, she says she's weak and can't imagine making it through the night alone. Next scene, Ava's opening the door for Mort.

    Dwight comes to, provides some background on Gail who's there, waiting on him expectantly, telling him they almost lost him and that he should've never left Old Town in the first place. He can only silently agree with her. The detectives continue their investigation, interviewing Agamemnon who confirms that Dwight was living clean and sober, solo and quietly. Dwight, healed a bit, is now getting told by the twins in charge of Old Town that he has to leave. He refuses and goes further, saying that, for the time being, he's the one in charge. Miho the assassin moves in behind him, ready to execute him for all this. So Gail tells the story of how it was Dwight that saved Old Town long ago by eliminating a pack of white slavers. He also adds that, though it was dark and hard to see in an alley one night, Miho probably didn't get a good look at the man that saved her as well. They're all satisfied with this, giving Dwight whatever he needs which, right now, is more time and more surgery.

    The detectives continue their investigation, speaking with Dwight's landlady who details what happened earlier that night, how Ava came to him first. As they're driving later, Bob complains to Mort how much Ava's testimony stinks now. Mort tries to piece together a theory where the landlady is in on it with Dwight but Bob scoffs at that, realizing his idiotic partner has gone and fallen in love with Ava and will clearly go to any lengths to protect her. When Mort confronts her with this discrepancy, Ava breaks down crying, saying she was trying to put him off and that he raped her in response. That's enough for Mort who promises to find him and kill him.

    The detectives head to the bar to interview Shellie next. Bob's enthralled by Nancy but Mort presses with the questions. Shellie, having dated Dwight briefly, tells him Dwight's a jerk but that's because he was tore up over Ava. She further speculates that he probably went to Old Town to recover and hide. That's enough for Mort but Bob cautions against going there. Shellie, for her part, calls Dwight after they leave and updates him that she told them exactly what she was supposed to…

    Dwight is improving and he calls Ava in the dead of night to let her know that. She then berates Mort for being a coward, that she'll never be safe while Dwight is alive and that he just needs to man up and march into Old Town to kill him. Dwight then visits Manute in the hospital (thanks to Marv's beating he also lost an eye) to get more information about Ava. Manute refers to her as “the goddess” and that she takes no lovers, just uses men up as she sees fit. As proof, the next scene is of Mort and Bob heading to Old Town to find and kill Dwight. Bob is arguing loudly against this, telling Mort he's lost his mind over Ava and that if he doesn't stop now Bob will turn him in. Mort responds by shooting his partner in the face. He stops the car and dumps the body, the realization of his actions just then settling in, making him take his own life in response.

    Ava, fully ensconced in power now, is hosting a function at the mansion and chatting up Mr. Wallenquist, one of the two most powerful crime bosses in Sin City. She tries to charm him but he's far beyond her capabilities, calling her an amateur but promising her Dwight's death and a suicide note detailing the deaths of Bob and Mort as well. He tells her he's bringing in an agent to accomplish all this by train the next night, which is all the undercover Gail needs to hear as she mingles nearby…

    Dwight, now with hair and some plastic surgery, goes to the train station then. He impersonates the agent and is met by Manute who cannot recognize him now. Manute escorts him and his ride - a classic convertible with a bubbly blonde next to him - to Lord's place. The boys head inside, leaving the blonde to seduce then incapacitate the guard. Gail then removes her wig and releases Miho from the trunk. Manute leads Dwight to outside Ava's room as she's still bathing. But he uses that opportunity to reveal that he actually recognizes Dwight's “eyes of a dead man” and they take his guns from him.

    Outside, Miho makes short work of the sentries. Inside, Ava seductively bathes and finally confronts Dwight, talking but he's not listening to her, waiting instead for the sudden explosion Gail lets loose outside. He's quickly got his hidden revolver out and unloads it into Manute; but it was only a small gun he could sneak into his sleeve so the big guy is still fighting. Dwight, though, is able to press his advantage and put the hurt on him. But when he's getting up to crash into Dwight it's Ava that yells at Dwight to get down and then she shoots Manute with one of Dwight's .45's, sending Manute crashing out the window. He's then pinned to the ground thanks to Miho's timely swords.

    Ava is enraged, wanting them to kill Manute so they can blame him for using mind control on her. She's got it all worked out, sealing the deal with Dwight's own innocence included by kissing him. At this point, though, there's only one resolution as Dwight just shoots her and makes his escape with Gail and Miho, back to Old Town...

    The Big Fat Kill - More post-surgery Dwight stuff here, as the story opens some time after the previous one. Dwight is hanging out with Shellie, for some reason, now at her place. Shellie's “boyfriend” is at the door with a bunch of buddies, wanting to come in, to have a good time with her and her lady friends. But she's refusing to let them in, not impressed at all with Jackie as he's an abusive drunk. He's pretty insistent, though, and Dwight is ready for them to come in.

    Shellie, though, hints at what bad, bad things will happen should all that go down. She asks Dwight to hide and then lets them in. They're brash and drunk, especially Jackie who finally does slap her around before going to take a leak. There, though, he gets to encounter a straight-razor wielding Dwight who introduces himself as Shellie's new “out of his mind” boyfriend. Jackie says he's making a big mistake so Dwight pushes his head into the urine-filled toilet and then makes his escape, hiding out on the ledge. Jackie's incensed and he takes his “troopers” and storms out. Shellie thanks Dwight but wants him to be done with him. Dwight knows this guy's gonna kill someone, though, and has to be stopped. He jumps to follow Jackie's car while Shellie yells something that sounds like, “Stop!” to him.

    He tails Jackie's car as it rolls into Old Town. It's clear they're looking for one girl, just one on her own. And, of course, they find one and proceed to humorously engage her. However, above this scene, Miho waits, watching; Dwight parks his ride and follows on foot, guns drawn as well. Jackie slowly rolls down the street, talking to this girl, trying to convince her how good he is and what a good time they'll have. He's already been put off by one woman tonight, though, and it's clear it's not going to happen again, even as they start down a dead-end alley and other girls close up the gate behind them.

    Gail stops Dwight, saying they've got this covered and that Miho needs the “release” this'll give her. Dwight says that while these guys are scum they haven't killed anyone but here in Old Town that doesn't matter. He's kinda bummed by the fact that they're walking into a storm they can't see but that's life in Sin City. Jackie's finally had enough and pulls his gun on the girl who tells him that's the dumbest thing he's ever done. Because that's Miho's cue who proceeds to slice off that hand and then swiftly execute the “troopers.” Jackie's soon back on his feet, holding his gun on Miho with his remaining hand. She dances around a bit, enraging him further, making him miss his step and slip on his severed hand. Miho then throws a metal rod into the barrel of Jackie's gun but he turns to shoot Dwight and gets on the receiving end of an exploding gun. Still alive, Dwight ask Miho to just finish him off already so she mostly severs his head.

    They all get to work disposing of the bodies and evidence, removing all ID and such from the corpses, when Dwight finds a bomb - Jackie's cop shield and his full name, Lt. Jack Rafferty, a hero cop. And they just murdered him in Old Town. Dwight realizes that was Shellie's misheard warning, something that rhymes with, “Stop.” The gravity of this falls quickly on them all, the truce that's kept the cops out (as well as the pimps and the mob) of Old Town. Now, the mob will have all the excuse they need to sweep in and take things over, brutally.

    Becky, the girl Jackie was pursuing, is freaking out that now things will return to the horrible way they used to be, voicing what everyone else is thinking. But Gail is defiant, promising they'll stand their ground. Dwight's is the only voice of reason here, though, and knows he owes these gals quite a lot. So he promises to dump the bodies in the tar pits but Gail's bordering on hysterical, shoving a gun in his face, telling him he'll never make it. One quick slap brings her to her senses, though, and they're soon embracing with a deep kiss.

    Dwight gets what he wants, a car with a big trunk, but Miho has to trim them up a bit so they'll all fit. Well, mostly - it's Jackie that doesn't fit there so he's up front, riding shotgun with Dwight. As he speeds toward his destination, it's Jackie that becomes the amusing voice of Dwight's conscience. Every thing that could go wrong, Jackie lists out, gnawing away at any shred of confidence Dwight might have. So when a cop pulls them over he's terrified, not wanting to kill him. He plays the designated driver card and it works, the cop letting him off with a warning on his busted taillight. Dwight reaches the pits and is just pushing the car in when, out of nowhere, a sniper bullet hits him…

    It's clear the mob's been tipped off by an informer as, now, in addition to that sniper, Manute's powerful hands have Gail in their grasp. He proclaims he has a new master when Gail recognizes him and tells her to get dressed and ready to meet him. He also tells her that, by now, Dwight is dead. So, for his part, Dwight takes a bullet to the chest and goes down. Four Irish mercenaries emerge, complimenting themselves on a job well done. But when one of them finds Jackie's badge with a bullet lodged in it, they realize too late that Dwight's alive. He proceeds to take 3 of them out before the fourth sends a grenade his way, sending him, his car, and the bits of Jackie and his friends into the tar.

    Dwight is sinking, slowly and helplessly, only able to silently bear witness to some additional mercenaries appearing and claiming Jackie's head as their prize. He drifts down into the nothingness then, all hope lost - until he feels Miho's fingers around his wrist. She's attached to a tow chain on a car that pulls them both out. She's also dispatched the guards remaining behind. The driver gal tells Dwight of Gail's situation and he lets them know there must be a mole, one of the girls, informing on them. Miho left one merc alive so Dwight questions him and, soon, they're off to rescue Gail and finish this whole thing once and for all.

    They know the mercs with Jackie's head aren't too far away so they chase them down. Dallas, the gal driving their car, recklessly just crashes into them and gets killed in the process. Dwight and Miho fight back, with Miho disappearing in another grenade explosion. The last remaining merc hops down a manhole and dares Dwight to follow. So he does, guns blazing. He's face to face with the merc holding Jackie's head when there's another explosion. The merc explains his fondness for such things but that he's going to carve up Dwight. Thankfully for Dwight it's Miho that shows up and finishes the merc instead. Now that they have Jackie's head, it's time to save Gail.

    She's getting painfully tortured by a master that can apparently inflict pain without leaving a mark on her. They want Gail to cut a deal with the mob before they go to the cops with Jackie's head and unleash hell on Old Town. Pleading with her to make the deal is Becky, the lone hooker from before, who's their informer. Gail, tied to a chair, lashes out at Becky, verbally at first and then with her teeth. Manute's had enough, though, and tells the torturer to get out his tools and get serious. He tells another thug to kill Becky, something he's only too eager to do.

    He's stopped, though, by an arrow from Miho through his chest. While he ponders this new development aloud, the arrow carried a note from Dwight, offering Jackie's head in exchange for Gail. It tells them they'll make the exchange out back of this building so Manute orders everyone out. Dwight's waiting for them at the end of the narrow, dark alley, showing them Jackie's head and making good on his promise. Gail protests, asking him what he's done, while Becky asks why there's tape over Jackie's mouth. Too late, Manute suspects a double-cross and that's when Dwight uses that merc's detonator to set off the small bomb.

    Manute, of course, survives and curses Dwight, only again realizing the reality of his situation too late as he sees the alley's covered from above by the gals of Old Town with a lot of guns. They all begin shooting, fish in a barrel, knowing they need to not just stop these guys but to prove to their mob boss the cost of messing with Old Town. Dwight notices Gail at his side, blasting away and laughing at it all. He joins with her, savoring the victory as well.

    That Yellow Bastard - Hartigan! An aging cop, oh so close to retirement, with a bum ticker and a hot lead on putting away one last vile scumbag before he rapes and kills a little girl named Nancy.

    The perp's name is Roark - of that Roark family - and this makes the fourth girl he's abducted. Hartigan's having none of it tonight, despite his partner (Bob!) trying to stop him, forcing Hartigan to knock him out so he can proceed. He gets hit with some serious angina but forces it back down, focusing on the task at hand. That involves first knocking out the loquacious Burt Shlubb and Douglas Klump. But that activity nearly gives him a heart attack. He manages to get one of his pills down and then keeps repeating Nancy's name and age as motivation.

    He goes with his hand cannon next, straight ahead. He quickly dispatches the two guards before a glancing shot from Roark stops him briefly. He corners Roark - who's got Nancy as a hostage now - on a pier with nowhere to go. He screams at Hartigan, saying he's untouchable because of who his dad is, so Hartigan blasts his ear off. He drops the girl whom Hartigan tells to look away as he next blows off his hand and his family jewels. But he's stopped by his partner Bob who shoots him in the back. Hartigan knows he has to stall Bob, to save Nancy, stall him until the backup arrives. So he keeps Bob talking, keeps him angry, so that he shoots Hartigan a few more times but not until Hartigan's able to hear the approaching sirens and knows she's safe. Nancy, for her part, curls up in his lap, seeming to be the safest place in the world right now.

    He's surprised then to awaken in a hospital bed, with Sen. Roark glowering over him. He launches into a tirade about the mess Hartigan's made and how powerless he is to stop what Roark's got planned for him. He's even paying for Roark's rehabilitation and heart surgery as he wants him alive for a long time, to live in disgrace, imprisoned and alone. He tells Hartigan they're going to frame him not for just trying to kill the younger Roark but for also brutally raping Nancy. And if he gets any funny ideas about telling the truth to anyone then that person is dead. Hartigan's wife stops by, wanting to support him but he knows he can't protect her and has to play along. Everyone hates him now for what he's supposedly done. Except Nancy, who risks a visit. Hartigan convinces her to stay away, to stay quiet, for her own sake, and she promises to do so as well as to write to him every week, under the name of Cordelia. As she leaves, she tells him she loves him, giving him one last thread of anything to hold on to...

    Weeks slip by and he's getting the crap beat out of him by a dirty cop who wants him to sign a confession. But he refuses, despite the beatings, despite the “truth” about him they keep telling everyone. Eight years then pass and Hartigan gets a letter every Thursday from “Cordelia.” It keeps him going even when everything else is gone. Until one Thursday when no letter appears. Hartigan is heart-broken, figuring that she's finally forgotten him, that she's moved on with her life. He collapses under the exhaustion of it all at that point, only to awaken to a horrible-smelling, very yellow man sitting in his cell with him. That yellow thing knocks Hartigan out and when he comes to, he finds an envelope from Cordelia on the floor. Only instead of containing a letter, it contains the severed finger of a 19-year old female.

    Realizing they've got to her he knows the only way to save her life now is to confess. He calls up Lucille to help him as she's the only one knowing full well that this has been a frame up. But she punches him after he tells her he's going before the board to confess. However, when he arrives, it's Sen. Roark that steals the spotlight, saying despite his crimes Hartigan deserves their mercy and forgiveness if he'll only apologize and beg Roark's forgiveness. So he does, every last word and, as a result, he's released from prison immediately.

    He's met by Mort who gives him a ride back into town, filling him in on what's happened to those he knew during his time away. He's also silently pursued by the yellow creature in another car. Hartigan gets to his flop, finds an address for Nancy and heads over to investigate. The only real lead he finds at her place is a matchbook from a dive bar downtown. He's not sure what it means but he heads down to find out more.

    And boy, does he, as Shellie points his eyes to the stage, where Nancy is just getting warmed up. He's awed, like everyone else in the place, realizing she's not the bookworm he expected. But he then also realizes that she wouldn't be here, doing this, if the Roarks had found her and that's when it hits him: His release was just to have him lead them right to her. Panicked, he tries to play it cool and leave before she recognizes him. But she finally does, jumping off the stage and into his arms. He tells her they're in great danger and so they leave immediately.

    They only get a short chance to speak to one another on the drive as they're interrupted by a gunshot from the yellow creature, in hot pursuit. Nancy keeps a gun under the seat so Hartigan's able to fire back and cause a crash. They stop and before he can confirm the kill police sirens alert him that it's time to leave. They stop at a motel and it's there that Nancy declares her love for him and he almost responds in kind but he's a strong moral character and knows it's wrong. They do love each other but in just a different way. He takes a cold shower to clear his head but is again interrupted by the yellow man who reveals his identity as the young Roark before knocking Hartigan unconscious.

    He awakens to find himself naked and bound, hanging precariously from a noose, his toes barely on a coffee table. Roark Junior has Nancy bound and is making plans for her that night, one that's got to be perfect. He explains then how he gets whatever he wants because of his dad - his dad, who hired every type of medical professional in the world to save and “fix” his son. They got all his parts working again but “There were some side effects,” Junior says, to explain his skin condition. But he's also become somehow even crazier, saying he's had hundreds of girls in those past 8 years of frustration, but now he finally gets the one he's wanted all along, and she'll die and Hartigan will know it's his fault. On his way out, Junior thinks to kick the coffee table out, leaving Hartigan to hang to death.

    Hartigan figures this is the end but, somewhere, that old spark fires up and he refuses this death since Nancy still needs his help. He manages to break a nearby window and carefully lift a glass shard up between his feet, to cut his wrists free. Meanwhile, Mrs. Shlubb and Klump head to dispose of his body. When they find no body and his noose cut, they think he's escaped but he's soon taken one of them out and gets the other to tell him where Junior was headed - the Farm.

    He speeds out in their Ferrari, with their small arsenal of weapons, hoping against hope yet again that Nancy's still alive. He spies her car on the side of the road on the way, realizing she didn't tell Junior how to get it running again, buying herself some time. Hartigan finally reaches the farm but then his heart acts up again, this time causing him to cough up blood. He pushes on, though, determined with everything he has to save her and/or end Junior. Inside the barn, Junior is naked, taking the whip to a strung-up Nancy, trying to get her to scream, something Hartigan told her not to do for him, never.

    And so she doesn't, even taunting him to get in close with the knife. But before he can do anything he hears the commotion outside. Hartigan, by his own admission, has gotten a little sloppy and alerted them to his presence, getting shot again in the process. He manages to take out the two armed guards coming for him, survive another heart episode, and make his way inside the barn. There, just as before, Junior has Nancy as hostage, saying he's going to make the old man watch him kill her since Hartigan is too old and wounded to stop him. As proof, Hartigan tries to raise his pistol but can't, collapsing instead. Junior relishes this victory and moves in to start killing Hartigan, getting close enough to allow the old man to bury his switchblade into his chest. He castrates Junior again by hand and then beats him until there's nothing left of his head. He carries a shocked, scared Nancy out of there and back to the car.

    She's herself again by the time they reach the vehicle, hoping that this is all over now. Hartigan tells her it nearly is and that she should get going. He's going to stay behind and work with the cops they hear coming in the distance, to blow this whole thing wide open and take down Roark. She buys this, kissing him and then hopping in the car and escaping. Yet Hartigan knows this isn't the end, that there's no beating Roark, not really, unless he does one last thing - deny him revenge, where Nancy's identity stays safe and buried. His own suicide will see to that, finally keeping Nancy safe once and for all. “An old man dies, a young girl lives. Fair trade.”

    Family Values - The rest of the stories in this collection are more like short stories so here's another featuring Dwight and Miho, settling scores once again. After a gangland-style execution at a diner, Dwight has to do some investigating. He finds a washed-up hooker alcoholic named Peggy to detail what, exactly, went down there.

    Her story details one criminal on the rise by the name of Bruno, a killer working for Mr. Wallenquist. That mob boss would eventually get him into politics but, before that, on one fateful night, Bruno had to take care of a rat in their organization. He did so, with his typical aplomb, even killing the whore with him in bed. What he didn't know, though, is that the girl was the beloved niece of Don Magliozzi, the Cosa Nostra head. The Don went half-mad with revenge but, thanks to Wallenquist's efforts, was unable to ever find the killer.

    So years passed and Bruno became a city board member, one firmly in that mob boss' pocket. Bruno then does something stupid: He falls in love with a golddigger. So much so that he lets his guard down with her and finally tells her the story involving the stool pigeon and the Don's niece. This is what she was waiting for all along, taking that recorded confession straight to the Don who promises his revenge. And that happens, the previous night, at the diner that was only open for Bruno especially since they made his favorite dish. The Italians roar up, blowing away both his chauffeur and Bruno in a hail of bullets before making their escape.

    And that's all Peggy knows. Dwight is grateful and leaves her with a gratuity when he's run down by the Don's goons and thrown into the car. Dwight can't help but remarking on the beauty of the vehicle, a '53 Cadillac El Dorado, and how much he's going to enjoy driving it later, after he kills all of them. This amuses the henchmen to no end so they let him keep talking. Miho, on rollerblades, follows at speed, undetected, this all being part of Dwight's plan apparently.

    The goons continue to smack Dwight around in the car as he won't let up about it. As they head toward the projects Dwight changes the subject, wanting to know before he dies if Vito, the main goon, was the one responsible for killing Bruno the night prior. He confesses that he was, that it was glorious and perfect. “Better than sex” is how he lovingly describes what went down. Dwight presses, though, asking if they killed anyone else there. No one, they figure, except some mangy old dog they put out of it's misery.

    With that, Dwight is satisfied and tells Miho to go to work, taking care not to tear the upholstery too much. She stabs the one with his gun on Dwight first then lets Vitto know she's there. Dwight tells them to drive to a nearby overlook and they then stop and all get out, three goons remaining. Vinnie, armed with a huge knife, figures he can take Miho out so she toys with him, landing well-placed blows. Vito and his brother, Lucca, figure that maybe, if Vinnie can take her, they can get out of this. But Dwight tells them he has a killing that needs to happen so he has Vito take out his gun and then points to Lucca as the target. Vito's naturally hesitant but after a display by Miho that shows Vinnie's death is imminent, he relents and kills his brother. Miho keeps toying with Vinnie until Dwight asks her to just end it already, which she does by punting his head off the overlook.

    Dwight has Vito then drive them to the Don himself, with Vitto trying to act crazy so they won't suspect him waiting to kill them. They arrive at the secluded mansion of the Don with Vito helping to distract the guards that Miho then kills. They also find out that this night is a “board of directors” meeting at the Don's place, where all the high-ranking family members are present. This suits Dwight just fine as Miho continues to work, polishing off the guards. She even sends one crashing through the ceiling glass, right into the middle of the Don's meeting.

    Miho dispatches the remaining guards and family members, leaving just the Don and allowing them to enter uncontested. Vito begs his uncle, the Don, for forgiveness and is glassed in response. But Dwight doesn't let him kill him. Instead, he sits the Don down for a story involving one of the ladies of Old Town, one named Carmen. She'd had an abusive childhood but found safety and even happiness with the girls in Old Town, even growing romantically close to one named Daisy. When the Don protests against Dwight speaking this “filth” in his home Dwight shuts him up with a well-placed shot to the leg and he continues. Apparently, last night, her car broke down near that diner and she happened to be using the pay phone outside it to call Daisy to come get her. Given Vito's proclivities, then, Dwight figures that when he took out that “dumb old dog” his bullet spray also took out Carmen, leaving Daisy to hear every last moment on the phone.

    Dwight then calls for Daisy to go ahead and come in and she proceeds to thoroughly kill everyone left. Dwight doesn't watch and knows that this will appear to be retaliation from Wallenquist for Bruno's murder. A whole gang war will erupt between them but the residents of Old Town will be safe from it all. Their “family” safe at last, he's able to finally take that Caddy for a spin...

    Booze, Broads, & Bullets - Here's a collection of short stories taking place in Sin City. First up is Just Another Saturday Night, featuring Marv. He awakens bloodied, wounded, a broken body nearby and two wrecked cars, with zero recollection of how it all came to be. So he calms down, takes a deep breath, and tries to piece it together:

    It's Saturday night, he was watching Nancy dance and then sees her jump into the arms of some old man. Saddened and lonely, he heads out back of the place with a bottle but is interrupted by screams and the smell of burning hair and meat. He finds four frat boys pouring gasoline on a wino and lighting him up. That doesn't sit well with Marv and he intervenes. One of them has a gun and takes a shot, only clipping Marv and just angering him that much more.

    They flee and he appropriates a cop car to give chase. They head to the projects, thinking they'll be safe. He decides to head them off, drive them into the projects deeper and crashes into their vehicle, bringing him up to his current predicament. He snaps the neck of the barely-alive frat boy near him and then follows the path of the others into the projects.

    This place, they take care of their own. They shoot arrows of warning at Marv's feet so he lets them know he's one of them and directs their fire to the remaining frat boys hiding out atop a nearby building. They comply, disabling the thugs, stringing one up and leaving the other for Marv. He calls out for a knife and one is tossed into his hand, allowing him to personally finish the gun-toting frat boy who called him “Bernie” due to Marv's coat being a Bernini. That is fresh information to Marv which, after disposing of the frat boy, wonders how he got that coat and the gloves he's wearing. He really wishes he could remember…

    Fat Man and Little Boy deals with Sin City regulars Klump and Shlubb who are disposing of a body. They're debating, in their own wordy way, whether Shlubb can replace his worn boots with the boots of the corpse rolled up into the rug they're dumping into the river. Klump advises Shlubb strongly not to do anything outside of what they were ordered to do. But Shlubb will not be deterred, wondering what the harm could be. He finds out, when he takes the boots only to find no feet or legs attached. The ensuing explosion doesn't kill them but teaches them a valuable lesson about their place in the crime world, indeed…

    The Customer Is Always Right is pure pulp goodness, dealing with two very Sin City-type characters. With a party going on inside, a woman takes to the deserted balcony, shivering a bit. She's approached by a tall man and they agree that this party isn't for them. He tells her he can see something in her eyes, something she's scared of, something she's running from. She thanks him for that and says she doesn't want to be alone. They embrace and kiss and he tells her that he loves her. Then he shoots her dead with a silenced pistol, holding her until she's gone. He doesn't know what she was running from but he'll cash the check she gave him for this job in the morning…

    Silent Night features more Marv, in big-panel action but starting with a direct admonition to the reader to, “Be good.” He enters a secret location, walking right up past the two bodyguards to the leather-clad woman reclining in a chair. He gives her a huge stack of cash and she shows him a locked door with a small viewing window. Inside is a scared little girl and that seems to satisfy him. He blows away the bodyguards and the woman then opens the door and calls the girl by her name, telling her that her momma's been worried about her. He takes her up in her arms, walking her back through the snowy night. He finishes by addressing the reader again, asking, “You being good yet?”

    And Behind Door Number Three is very short, featuring the ladies of Old Town laying a trap for a psycho that's been carving girls up. They catch him in another setup, Gail kneecaps him and then Miho enters, her sword drawn, making it clear they can handle their own problems.

    Blue Eyes sets up the killer that runs through a couple stories, a real femme fatale named Delia. It begins with a panicked man running away from a relentless man pursuing him. He thinks he gives his stalker the slip, ending up in the bar where Nancy's doing her thing on stage. He thinks that kind of woman reminds him of Delia. He orders a bottle of rye to calm himself but then his stalker appears, sitting across the bar from him, coolly ordering himself a drink. The man thinks he gonna die and, right then, outta the blue, Delia appears by his side.

    She's forlorn, saddened by the love of this good man that she turned her back on, wondering if there's any room for forgiveness in his big ol' heart. He's too shocked to speak and she takes this as a rebuke. But he's soon come to, telling her she's in danger just being near him. She says that doesn't matter and, soon, they're off, expressing their deep love for each other in hot, wet ways. The man pledges himself to her, wondering why she's sobbing so. She realizes that she truly does love him - and that makes what she has to do next all the harder. She strikes him, telling him he has to die, that he's her final audition to join an elite group of assassins. She tearfully does so, and the man's stalker - hiding in the room - comes forward and congratulates her. He also tells her she needs a code name and, naturally, she picks Blue Eyes.

    Rats is the oddity of the collection, still taking place in Sin City but narrated in a stilted style. An old man with arthritis opens a can of dog food, comparing this place to London, being cold and rainy as it is. A rat joins him and he feeds it before grabbing it and putting it into the oven - a process he compares to some other time in his life, where thousands “squealed” in the gas as well.

    As he watches the rat die he front door kicks open and a burly man enters. He grabs the old man by the throat, drags him back over to the stove, and shoves his head inside. He keeps the gas going and lets the irony of the situation sink in during this, the old Nazi's last moments…

    Daddy's Little Girl takes another love-lorn schlub named Johnny as its hero, this one getting in some target practice and wondering if he can actually kill a man. He thinks about his true love, Amy, a pretty young thing who's father won't allow him anywhere close to. So he goes to daddy's house, to ask for her hand. But he's quickly rebuffed by the daddy, telling him he'll never see her again. He says Amy's his little girl and she only does what he says.

    Johnny remembers fully what she said, that daddy was cutting her out of his will if she went with him, they could elope but not survive on his salary, that there's only one way for them - and then points to the gun in the drawer. With that memory, he pulls that gun out and fires at daddy. Then, Johnny immediately regrets what he's done. This amuses daddy greatly, who tells him the gun was loaded with blanks before he starts beating the crap out of Johnny. Amy appears then, in a barely-there teddy, telling Johnny that it takes a bit more these days to get daddy properly excited. She tells him this, right before daddy kills him…

    Wrong Turn is another Delia story, with another schlub named Phil coming across her unconscious form in the middle of a country road on a dark and stormy night. He stops and she comes to, wondering what happened as her car broke down earlier. He gives her a lift and they begin talking. He lies to her when he says he's not married and then wonders why he did that, thinking that his wife, Donna, shouldn't have said the things she did and it's her fault if he does something here he shouldn't.

    She has him take her to the tar pits and they get out, her explaining this was the site of her first sexual encounter. They start to get into it but then Phil has to tell her the truth about his marriage. But Delia's not having it, asking why he's still lying about that and his name. She calls him Eddie and that he's a jewel thief with a trunk full of merchandise he's going to get fenced. Phil protests, though, saying he's telling the truth and that he's just a used car salesman. Delia is confused but knows she's messed up. Phil offers to take her wherever she wants and she thanks him for being sweet, right before she kills him.

    The Colonel is there and she apologizes but he tells her the real target is on an inbound train and they can just catch it. They go to put Phil's body in the back of his car but then find Donna's murdered body there. Their simpleton Gordo then pushes the whole mess into the tar pits, with Delia saying she's got a train to catch.

    Which leads directly into the next story, Wrong Track, where Eddie is counting his lucky stars as he knows he's going to be rich and that he's just met a firecracker of a gal who's all over him on the train. He thinks he's completely in love - right up until Delia breaks his neck and throws his body from the train.

    The Babe Wore Red is another Dwight story. He receives a late-night phone call from an old friend named Fargo so Dwight heads over straight away, only to find Fargo hanging dead and another man - a P.I. - dead in the bathroom. A large man, clearly the murderer, almost gets the drop on him but Dwight's fast and beats the crap out of him, stopping just short of killing him.

    A startled gasp from behind the shower curtain and Dwight pulls it back to reveal trouble in a red dress. She's scared, says she's not part of this, and wants his help. Just then, though, a shot cracks the window near them, missing them and giving Dwight time to take her up in his arms and escape. He gets in his car and speeds away, the assassins giving chase. Along the way he gets to know this woman, calling herself Mary, who says she's just a hooker who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dwight can tell that's a lie but, right now, he has bigger problems.

    He leads the two killers to the farm and ambushes them in the woods. He easily takes them out and demands answers from Mary. And she gives them before they part. The next day, the newspaper has a story detailing that the two assassins are Klump and Shlubb. Dwight is surprised to get a package as he's officially listed as dead but it's from Fargo, sent before his demise. It appears that he and that P.I. were working on some evidence leading to Wallenquist and his lieutenants, linking them with drug trafficking.

    Dwight's further surprised when he receives another package, this one Mary's red dress and an explanation: She did just stumble in on all this but she was no hooker; rather, she was on the verge of entering a convent and had a last-minute moment of doubt. But Dwight figures her new “husband” will be pretty forgiving...

    Hell and Back - The final story in this collection and it's a duesy. It also features a huge colorized section, unique to this series where Miller's used just touches of color to accentuate a particular character (typically a female) quite sparingly.

    The story here is about Wallace, a painter who, when the story opens, blew his chance for a good job/paycheck by refusing to draw explicit nudies. He takes a drive and figures he can maybe just go back to being a short-order cook to make his rent. His thoughts are interrupted, though, when a ladies jacket lands on his windshield, fallen from the cliff above this seaside road. Atop the cliff stands a woman who, after Wallace approaches her, completes her suicidal jump into the waters below.

    Wallace immediately dives in after her and pulls her out, taking her back to his car to get her some help. All of this is simultaneously viewed by two nefarious henchmen of The Colonel, who need to get this woman, apparently, and she needs to be alone. Thankfully, Wallace's landlady is a former nurse so she's able to address the woman's needs directly and with discretion. She also goads Wallace to get this young lady's phone number…

    Wallace goes back up to his apartment and works off his restlessness with a heavy bag. The Colonel's agents view all this, too, taking stock of who they might be up against in this kidnapping mission. Wallace's workout is interrupted when the woman enters, clad in the only thing the landlady had that would fit her. Wallace offers her his closet which she gladly takes up, taking her time to get her look just right. She also looks around his room a bit and finds a handgun next to a case holding a Congressional Medal of Honor.

    She finally finds an outfit that works and Wallace has to admit he's impressed. She sees his current painting and it's then her turn to be impressed. She seems genuinely interested in his art and, when they head out for a drink, in him as well. Wallace learns that her name is Esther and that she's a struggling actress, explaining the “artist” thing. She tells him she found his CMH and asks him about it. He reluctantly gives her the full story and she hangs on every word. Wallace feels emboldened then to ask Esther why she jumped but she's not willing to discuss that yet. They head outside and share a brief kiss - brief, due to the fact that a sniper shot takes down Wallace.

    When he awakens an abusive cop named Manson is yelling at him and beating him for being a deadbeat. Esther is nowhere around, just one of her shoes remaining. Wallace can barely remember what happened, some large guy grabbing her and hauling her away while Wallace could barely move a muscle. He'd obviously been tranq'd and Manson figures he's just a worthless, long-haired junkie. Esther is thrown into the back of an ambulance and strapped down so Dr. Frederic can administer some other sedative, saying that he needs to be careful with “the merchandise.”

    The cops throw Wallace into the drunk tank for the night and despite his odious surroundings he's able to meditatively calm himself, find his quiet place and tap into his memory. It starts with leaving the bar with Esther and then their embrace and kiss. Then, it's the sting of the tranquilizer dart, putting him mostly down. He struggles and somehow manages to keep moving so he's shot again, down for good. Coming back into awareness of his present surroundings, he can only wonder where Esther is now.

    She's shown naked, in some remote industrial part of Sin City, waking to find The Colonel sitting there, watching her. He tells her his people are going to remake her, give her a new name, new memory, everything - even make her African-American face a “tad less ethnic” to make her more “marketable.” Esther is defiant but still doesn't quite know what exactly is happening here.

    Wallace, released from the tank, goes back to the bar to try and find anything of use but comes up short. A bum approaches him and Wallace sees he's wearing Esther's shoe, so he buys it from him and takes it to the police as the sole piece of evidence. However, Manute witnesses this from a nearby car and informs The Colonel of this development. For their part, the detective Wallace speaks to is less than helpful even though there's very little to go on. Wallace tells him if the police won't do something, he will - something the detective warns him off against, alerting Manson after Wallace leaves that he'll need to pull some “extra duty” on this one.

    Soon, then, two squad cars catch up to Wallace on a deserted road and pull him over, ready to rough him up. Wallace gives them warning and, when they refuse to desist, he proceeds to stomp the ever-loving tar out of them all. He strips them of their uniforms and leaves them naked in the road. He also finds that they are loaded with cash, obviously in league with whoever nabbed Esther. So now he's got the cops to fight, too. Elsewhere, Esther is coming to again, asking aloud where she is. She's answered this time by a professional-looking woman named Maxine telling her she's nowhere and that she's nothing, starting the psychological breakdown of Esther…

    The lieutenant, Leibowitz, meets with The Colonel at his mansion, complaining about Wallace's recent actions. The Colonel tells him that Wallace is a former Navy Seal but that doesn't deter the cop, who wants revenge. But The Colonel tells him to back off and let his people handle this, to keep the exposure level as low as possible. He also tells Leibowitz to stay in the dark about things he can't possibly understand.

    Wallace pays his rent and is preparing to catch the next train out of town. But his landlady is insistent about him and Esther hooking up. She leads him up to her place and fishes out Esther's business card (since she's an aspiring actress, duh). Wallace thanks her and changes his plans, grabbing his gun and setting out for Esther's address. He sneaks into it and finds a woman in blue there. Upon waking, she figures he must've done something with Esther, her roommate. She cries and tries to attack him, saying she's been worried sick about her. She says her name is Delia as she lights up a smoke. She pulls him in close to her, shivering from 'shock' but then kissing him deeply and taking his hand to caress her body.

    Manute bursts in at this point, saying the lady is to come with him and that Wallace just needs to die. However, Wallace is more than a match for the brute, surprisingly sending him crashing out the apartment window. Delia watches all this, observing, telling Wallace he's magnificent and how much she wants him. He tells her to get away from the window just as a sniper shot rings out - creeps like this, he points out, rarely work alone. He gets Delia to stay low and clothe herself while he deals expertly with the sniper, shooting him right through the sniper's scope.

    Wallace grabs Delia and they run to his car just as another comes into view, giving them chase. They rain bullets down on them, seemingly exciting Delia who tries to give Wallace some pleasure. He rebuffs her and swings he car into position, allowing him to quickly stop, jump out and shoot the chasing car, which sends it crashing off the cliff. He finds a cell phone near the crash and, memorizing the last-called number, he redials it. The Colonel answers and Wallace updates him on what's happened. He also tells the villain to give him Esther or he'll kill him. The Colonel just hangs up, leaving Wallace with a little bit more of a trail.

    Wallace next heads to his old contact, the Captain. From the old man - who comically tests his detection skills outside of his place - he gets the Heap, an old station wagon that's tricked out and loaded with weapons. He also gives the Captain the phone number to trace and asks for a pair of handcuffs. The Captain hints at he must be in for a fun time, especially with Delia who's coolly crossed her legs on the hood of his car. They get into the Heap and head out, with Wallace talking more that he believes Esther's kidnapping is tied to a bigger conspiracy. But Delia is skeptical and shaking a bit, both of them realizing they need some rest.

    The find a motel and get a room. Once inside, he plays the dominant male, something Delia's all too willing to comply with. He has her disrobe and climb onto the bed, where he handcuffs her to the frame. She's all cooing and expectant but he uses the opportunity to search her clothing. He's put it together that since Esther's clothes didn't smell of smoke at all the chain-smoking Esther couldn't be her roommate. She compliments his astuteness but then mocks his not following his own advice of staying away from windows as a sniper bullet knocks him cold.

    He awakens in the rain with Delia standing over him, being carried by their simpleton Gordo. They're joined by Dr. Frederic and Maxine, responsible for tranq'ing Wallace yet again. Gordo puts him into the car that's rigged with an explosive. Before they send him to his death, Delia explains that because he's a big war hero they had to set him up with the crazed, drugged vet thing, going so far as to put a murdered young girl in the trunk. Delia seems sad she'll never seem him again, though, to which Wallace replies, “You'll see me again. I'm going to kill every one of you.” Maxine gives him another huge tranquilizer dose and Gordo pushes the car over the cliff.

    The next section takes place from Wallace's point of view, one that suffering some serious hallucinations from all the drugs. Miller playfully interposes objects he encounters as different cartoon-y elements. Wallace, in this state, somehow still survives the explosion and crash but he sees dinosaurs trying to eat him, cherubs filling him with arrows of self-doubt, sort of malevolent pixies who show him the Raggedy Ann doll in the trunk (Wallace is thankful for the drugs screwing up his vision at this point), and then armored lizards who are actually the cops he beat up earlier. He fights back as best he can but is saved by a sniper, the Captain coming to his rescue and looking like King Leonidas. And Ogami Itto. And Captain America. And Rambo. And the Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. And Martha Washington, who's ass he can't keep from ogling, much to the consternation of the Captain.

    The Captain has captured one of the cops and is able to question him (as Dirty Harry). He delivers his findings to Wallace in the form of God, Santa Claus and ED-209. They find the location of The Colonel's industrial complex and head there, going through Seuss-land and outer-space, finding Gordo and the others having stopped for gas on the way (driving gas-guzzling Humvees will do that). The Captain and Wallace attack with a missile launcher but Gordo's able to shoot back, hitting the Captain (who now appears as Hagar the Horrible). He's still tripping and holding the fatally-wounded Captain who appears as Hellboy when he tells him to give them hell.

    He finds Maxine and Delia still alive and forces Maxine to fix his mind at gunpoint. Delia briefly turns into Elektra when she's going to stab him but he points his .45 at her at stops that. Maxine delivers, and in coming out of his mania he fires both his guns, killing Maxine and wounding Delia. She knows this is the end and asks for his mercy, which Wallace delivers, keeping good on his word. Out of his drug-haze, he finds the dead Captain and takes him back home. There, his partner Jerry builds a funeral pyre for the Captain and sadly bids him goodbye. He then turns to nursing Wallace back to health, who's still worrying about being useless in helping Esther.

    A new character gets introduced next, a sexy sunglass-wearing badass named Mariah. She's straddling Dr. Frederic, waking him after he survived the attack by Wallace. The Colonel is there as well, explaining that the doctor's lack of discipline has cost him (noted by his dead lover in the bed next to him) and that Wallace, having seen the doctor's face, could track him down. So Mariah does what she does best and silences him once and for all.

    Interjected here a bit jarringly is another short story, titled My Blind Date - A Sin City Tale of Woe. A high schooler named Josh narrates a letter to his dad where he finally screws up his courage to ask his crush, Nisha, out on a date. But she'd rather stay friends, devastating Josh. But then a hot car screeches up next to him, driven by an even hotter female - Mariah. She offers him a ride home which he nervously accepts. She seductively rubs on him as she tears through the countryside, finally stopping at a secluded spot and leading him to a place where they can be alone. Once there, though, she breaks his arm and hospitalizes him. He finishes his story to his dad, one Lt. Leibowitz. He tells his son to be strong, thankful he's still alive. Outside the room, he's confronted by The Colonel and Mariah, making sure their message is clear to him, that they need him to keep their secrets, that they know everything about him, etc.,.

    Back at the farm, Wallace has recovered well, puts his shakes off and gears up for the fight ahead, knowing he's not entirely sure what he's going to encounter so choosing the “quiet” route of infiltration. His next scene is surprising Lt. Leibowitz at his place. He disarms the cop as he sits drinking in his chair and tells him his story:

    Wallace headed for that industrial complex, hitching a ride inside the trailer of a truck headed there. He's surprised that one of the crates in there emitted a snore. Upon opening it, he finds an unconscious, bound female and, checking another smaller crate, hears a small whimper. The truck slows and he knows he's got work to do.

    Wallace exits the truck when it stops at its destination, quietly and efficiently eliminating all the guards. He spies a fuel truck and plants a remote bomb onto it as insurance then continues on his way. He makes his way silently into the main building and is surprised to find a nursery full of infants. That's followed by a hallway full of people in cages, primarily young, white females. He also discovers a morgue and an operating room as he makes his way to the building's center.

    It's at that point that Mariah has noticed him, enjoying his ruthlessness. He heads into the morgue and, upon searching it, discovers the organ-harvesting program underway here.Wallace finally comes to a clean room, complete with basically a movie set on it. A big bed is set up in front of the cameras and Mariah's there, offering a spot of fun to him. The lights come up and The Colonel sits in a director's chair, flanked by many armed men. Wallace asks for Esther but The Colonel dismisses that notion, saying that she's been conditioned to do whatever he wants and that, soon, Wallace will, too.

    That's Wallace's queue to set off that bomb on the tanker outside. It does a great deal of damage, allowing him to escape after a brief fight with Mariah. But he knows he didn't accomplish much in that outing. And that's when Leibowitz' phone rings with The Colonel wanting to cut Wallace a deal, to give him Esther in exchange for his silence on his discovery. They set up a pickup at the notorious farm north of Sin City.

    But Wallace goes in with his eyes wide open. He does find Esther there in the barn, confused but quick to recognize him and remember her own name. Obviously still traumatized Wallace covers her with a jacket that she complains is really heavy as he leads her outside. Just then a helicopter appears and litters them with bullets, followed by a huge explosion as the chopper goes down. Jerry's taken care of that and, thanks to the bulletproof vests, Wallace and Esther are still alive.

    He gets her to a hospital to recover and then tells Jerry he can't just leave that operation running, even though attacking it is sheer suicide. But it's then that the cops burst in, talking about a massive police operation and many wounded at an industrial complex north of town. It appears that Lt. Leibowitz has done the right thing - as is shown in the next scene, where he executes The Colonel and makes him an official missing person. Mariah brings the bad news to Mr. Wallenquist then, wanting revenge, to set this right. But Wallenquist is very prudent: He knows this can stop at The Colonel's death, that Liebowitz will come back around to their thinking later, and that Wallace, now that he has what he was after, is best left to his own devices.

    And so, happily, Wallace waits for Esther to find the right outfit and they head out of town. On the way, he risks asking her once again why she jumped. She only replies with, “I was lonely.” Wallace understands, knowing what Sin City can do to good people and feels all the better about leaving it all behind. The End.

    The collection concludes with a very brief biography of Frank Miller. Chronologically, the stories were released as they are presented here in this volume (although the timeline events has them criss-crossing multiple times). It's handy to have them now all in one place, to really get a sense of the continuity running through it all. Assembled as these are into one massive 1,360-page volume, though, I get the sense you are only to read a bit at a time rather than ploughing through large chunks of it in a single attempt.

    This collection also covers a good length of time and, in that, I think you can see the artist's own transition. Revisiting some of these stories - having read them years ago upon their initial releases plus what was included in the 2005 film and what's going to be in the soon-to-be released sequel - I found it refreshing, for the most part. The final entry seems to have several near-endings, running a little long and feeling a little too familiar. And it's happy ending stands in stark contrast to the more brutal aspects of the stories preceding it.

    But in terms of neo-noir, Sin City stands alone in defining it for this modern era. Its pulpy content, singular and immediately-identifiable artistic style all serve now as hallmarks of modern crime fiction and noir-style storytelling. Miller has taken something well worn and breathed new life into, combining ridiculous, over-the-top violence with brisk, to-the-point narrative technique regardless of what character's at the center. It's brutal, sexy fun and this volume is a must-have for any library or collection as it's presented in all its full-frontal glory beautifully.

    • Ian Jane
      Ian Jane
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      A big damn review for a damn good series.

    • Todd Jordan
      Todd Jordan
      Smut is good.
      Todd Jordan commented
      Editing a comment
      holy shit.

    • Nolando
      Senior Member
      Nolando commented
      Editing a comment
      I just wish DH had more images to share with this, like some from each of the big stories. Regardless, this is a pretty amazing collection and, I'd say, worth the $100 investment.
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